Manic – Another New Home EP

Another New Home EP

After forming in 2002 and playing live for many years, including a recent four month UK club tour, the Los Angeles four-piece that call themselves Manic, hit the studio to record a couple of EPs. Another New Home is the second of two EPs released this year and the shrewd alt-rock offered up indicates the trip through the UK circuit paid great dividends.

This terrific EP contains hints of Radiohead’s post-punk angst, both musically and vocally, snappy Death Cab for Cutie-like cadences and shades of the slick, layered guitar sound that The Cure pioneered. But like trippy, alt-rock gurus Thee More Shallows, Manic don’t so much as imitate their influences as use them to stimulate their own musical ideas in order to mold their unique brand of noise-rock into some grand alternative pop.

Manic are not afraid to mix it up a little as they stray from standard rock formulas and express their artistic freedom through the addition of atmospheric electronic effects and elements of shoegaze that temper the heavy wall of guitars perfectly. The crafty guitar leads are not flashy but are artfully cool and polished to fit seamlessly within the context of the song while whirling feedback strains and droning sound effects undulate in the background.

The Radiohead influence is felt from the start as Paul Gross’ viscous, falsetto snarl mimics Thom Yorke’s on opener “Another New Home”. Nate Perry’s driving bass lines and drummer Ryan Green’s pounding backbone provide the perfect alt-rock tension released by Zane Smythe’s soaring guitars and the band’s sense of harmony that collectively draw parallels not only to Radiohead, but Built To Spill and Modest Mouse. The following track, “Nickel Medication”, slows the pace a bit and flows with a dreamy post-rock styling, while Gross shows off his vocal flexibility sounding like a creepily calm Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), before the song blossoms with some colorful and majestic guitar feedback. “Carolina Ghost” explodes with some brisk drum beats, dark synths and hooky guitars that make it the standout alt-pop track. The 4-track EP ends with “Calm”, a Band Of Horses-flavored tune that employs some lushly textured keyboards, rumbling bass and delicate vocals, dripping with reverb. The wiry rhythms slowly build to a blissfully noisy, wall-of-sound vortex with swirling atmospheric guitars. The maelstrom eventually dissipates and fades to reveal a thin layer of radio static that the listener comes to realize was playing in the background the whole time. It then continues unabated for another 10 minutes to close the disc.

Another New Home proves that Manic attack their craft with enthusiasm and are capable of diverse and somewhat experimental alternative rock. The dynamic rhythms are both thrashing and catchy as these artists integrate elements from some prominent bands into an exciting sound of their own.